EYE SPY: Francesca Baker

I step, I stride, I walk quickly. I have things to do.

Stop.

Soak it up. You are here, now. No purpose but to see, process, record, and tell. Be a flaneur, observing, taking in an impression, a fleeting glance, more, more, more. Slow down. Harrison, Seaford, Sidmouth, Westking, Heathcote, Cromer. Walk them again. See what you find.

Two women in wheelchairs sit amongst the tombstones of St George’s Gardens, chatting from a social distance, fragments of gravestones mark the separation of two burial grounds, St George The Martyr and St George’s Bloomsbury. Children roll in the mud, eating some clumps, throwing others. They are small – the children, and the mounds of mud. There’s a picnic, and a panic as an errant child wanders away. The mother calls, worried, urgent, but with a sense of embarrassment at having to raise her voice. Private spaces in public places. Family and friends connecting without touching. A pub for long nights lingering over poetry and wine stands empty, shut up from the virus. Wooden tables stacked up against the walls, and a small sign promising they will be back. Run down council blocks next to grand Georgian terraces, all with stories to tell. There’s washing hanging from a balcony, bright colours, like a pack of Skittles sneezed over it. A big black door stands imposing, once a place where learners came to gather and bounce ideas, now closed up, ideas all happening online. History permeates every wall, history from the past, and history creating itself in the present. A man sits outside Holy Cross Church, where services are shut down and he might be waiting a while for salvation. Lemonade light filters through the trees. Scratchy gravel pathways underfoot, becoming heavy tarmacked roads, and hot pavements. The streets are simmering, quieter than usual, but still with innate London lustiness.

I sit down.

I take a breath.

I stop.

Francesca Baker

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